About this Research Topic
Wnt signaling is implicated in myriad biological phenomena, including embryonic development, tissue homeostasis, maintenance of stem cells and regeneration of various tissues and organs. Due to these essential roles, misregulation of the Wnt pathway causes cancer, congenital defects and degenerative diseases. Although numerous components of the Wnt pathway and their functions have been characterized, many questions related to the regulation and modifications of signaling remain unanswered. Hence, targeted treatment of the pathway-associated diseases is currently not possible.
Interactions of Wnt proteins and their receptors might constitute the most complex relationship between extracellular ligands and receptors identified to date. This complexity parallels the variety of Wnt proteins and receptors as well as the variety of signaling pathways triggered by the Wnt-receptor interactions. Being the best characterized Wnt pathway, Wnt/β-catenin signaling is initiated by the molecular interaction of the extracellularly secreted Wnt ligands with the cell surface receptor Frizzled and the coreceptor Lrp5/6. Wnt-receptor complex formation specifically occurs in island-like specialized structures of certain lipids and proteins, so called “rafts” (historically also referred to as “lipid rafts”). Activation of Wnt pathway components in these specialized membrane nanodomains is a target for cellular pathway modulators. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying Wnt-receptor complex formation is of utmost importance as the protein-protein or protein-lipid interactions underlying these mechanisms might serve as attractive drug targets, especially in cancer treatment.
In this Research Topic, we welcome Review and Original Research articles that shed light on our understanding of molecular mechanisms by which Wnt ligands interact with their receptors at the cell surface, how these interactions are tightly regulated by pathway modulators, how misregulation of these interactions associate with human diseases and therapeutic targeting of Wnt signaling at the plasma membrane.
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